Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tribune - Elder Lore/The Dark Arts

Elder Lore/The Dark Arts
Corpse Corrosion Music

Tribune are no strangers to the Canadian metal scene, with the Vancouver (British Columbia) based outfit having already released one full-length release (2006’s digital only release ‘Home Sweet Hell’) and an E.P. (2009’s ‘Rotting Core’) to their name since forming in 2004. As the story goes, their latest full-length effort ‘Elder Lore/The Dark Arts’ is essentially a collection of tracks written prior to the addition of guitarist Shawn Culley into the band’s fold (Known as the 'Elder Lore’ tracks), and material that has been written with the line-up that makes up the current incarnation of Tribune (Which are not surprisingly known as ‘The Dark Arts’ tracks).
Upon my initial listen to ‘Elder Lore/The Dark Arts’, I was a little thrown by what Tribune had to offer. Musically, the band is hard to pigeonhole, with the eight tracks on the album seemingly touching upon a wide array of sounds and directions - all of which can only be labelled as metal. Needless to say, a band that’s not afraid to experiment and go in completely different directions from one track to the next is just the kind of album that interests me the most. And on that level, Tribune has well and truly succeeded. ‘Elder Lore/The Dark Arts’ is an eclectic album that will certainly have many people scratching their heads – all the while wondering what to make of it all.
But while Tribune is on a winner on some levels, they’re sadly falling behind in others. And more often than not, it primarily boils down to Bryan Baker and his somewhat inconsistent sounding vocals.
The opening track ‘It Came From The Swamps...’ starts off in impressive fashion with its harmonised guitar sounds and deep growling vocals, but it soon takes a turn for the worse with the introduction of Baker on clean vocals. Baker isn’t the worst vocalist I’ve heard, and there are times where his efforts actually sound good. But it’s the moments where he sounds a little weak, that things really sound amateur. And it’s a shame too, as the track itself (Which is part melodic death metal/part thrash/part stoner groove) is really strong from a song writing point of view.
The follow-up track ‘The Succubus’ (Which showcases a progressive side to the band’s sound) is again as strong and as weak as the opening track, but fares a little better with Baker mixing up his vocal approach to limit the use of clean vocals, while the re-recorded ‘Chemistry Arrives’ (Which originally appeared on ‘Home Sweet Hell’) is undoubtedly one of the album’s stronger efforts with its brutal array of riff structures, strong sense of groove and its sparing use of clean vocals.
‘The Warrior Mentality’ is musically a great mix of metalcore and traditional metal (The guitar solo around the halfway mark is an absolute killer), and a likeable track if you can overlook the weak vocals, while the strong stoner like grooves within ‘Below’ and the metallic and technically inclined ‘We, The Black’ are just two examples on the album where Baker’s vocals suit for the most part.
In terms of song writing, ‘Man On The Outside’ is without a doubt the album’s most thought out and focussed effort, and not surprisingly, is filled with lots of instrumental moments that really showcase the capabilities of the band members as musicians, while the nine minute epic closer ‘The World’s Greatest Cynic’ is another strong song on the album with a progressive/rock sound that brings to mind The Sword in places.
Tribune is one hard band to pin down sound wise, but in terms of faults, it’s all too obvious. If Baker stuck to his screams and growls, ‘Elder Lore/The Dark Arts’ would come across as a whole lot stronger. But as it stands, Tribune’s strengths as musicians and song writers are overshadowed by some seriously awkward and problematic clean vocals.

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© Justin Donnelly